Not enough fans are talking about Reds prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand

Oklahoma St. third baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand
Oklahoma St. third baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

With the deadline to protect Rule 5 Draft eligible prospects quickly approaching, a lot of focus througout Reds Country is on Cincinnati's top two prospects: Elly De La Cruz and Noelvi Marte.

And rightfully so. The tandem has the potential to achor the left side of the Cincinnati Reds infield for the next decade if De La Cruz and Marte play up to their potential.

But there's another young infield prospect who's 2022 season seems to have gone relatively unnoticed throughout the Reds fanbase. Christian Encarnacion-Strand had a monster season in the minor leagues and may make his way to the big leagues sooner than everyone thinks.

Are Reds fans sleeping on Christian Encarnacion-Strand?

Christian Encarnacion-Strand was part of the trade package with the Minnesota Twins that sent former right-handed starter Tyler Mahle to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The Cincinnati Reds also received infielder Spencer Steer and pitcher Steve Hajjar.

Steer was called up to the big leagues last September and looks to be, at the very least, in the mix for spot on the bench next season. While Steer is a bit more advanced in his professional career, Encarnacion-Strand may yet become the key piece of that trade with Minnesota.

Encarnacion-Strand, who was just awarded the Midwest Player of the Year for his 74-game performance while suiting up for the Cedar Rapids Kernels while still with the Twins organization, slashed .304/.368/.587.

Unlike several other Reds prospects, Encarnacion-Strand appears able to hit for average, power, and keep his strikeout-rate below 30.0%. In addition to his .955 OPS and a wRC+ of 152, Encarnacion-Strand smacked 31 homers last season.

Heading into the offseason, the Cincinnati Reds have no need to add Christian Encarnacion-Strand to he 40-man roster in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. Encarnacion-Strand will not become eligible until after the 2024.

But odds are good that the 22-year-old will have already made his big league debut by then. MLB Pipeline ranks Encarnacion-Strand as the team's 14th best prospect, but predicts the slugger will make his way to The Show in 2023. If Encarnacion-Strand keeps mashing like he did in 2022, that's a very realistic possibility.

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